VAN HALEN (Not Van Hagar!) Coda: Can’t Get This Stuff No More
Welcome to the final installment in my latest series of reviews at mikeladano.com: an in-depth look at all the classic VAN HALEN albums, with David Lee Roth. If you missed anything, don’t fret: the complete list is right below. Dig in!
Part 1: The Early Years (Zero – 1977)
Part 2: On Fire (Van Halen – 1978)
Part 3: Somebody Get Me A Doctor (Van Halen II – 1979)
Part 4: Everybody Wants Some!! (Women and Children First – 1980)
Part 5: Push Comes to Shove (Fair Warning – 1981)
Part 6: Intruder (Diver Down – 1982)
Part 7: House of Pain (1984 – 1984)
Coda: Can’t Get This Stuff No More (Best Of Volume I – 1996)
VAN HALEN – “Can’t Get This Stuff No More” / “Me Wise Magic” (1996 Warner promo singles)
Van Halen had been doing just fine, thank-you-very-much, with Sammy Hagar for a decade. There had always been rumors that they were on the verge of a split with Hagar. I remember hearing those rumors on MuchMusic in 1987, around the time Sammy had released his self-titled solo album. The rumors returned when Sammy released his Unboxed compilation in 1994. When the split did finally occur in 1996, it was explosive. Especially when Van Halen announced that they had resumed work with David Lee Roth, and two brand new songs featuring his voice would be released on the forthcoming Best Of Volume I album.
A somewhat embarrassing MTV Awards appearance by the reunited Van Halen stoked the fire. They presented an award to a stunned looking Beck, who thanked them in his speech. Dave, always the ham, made the most of the opportunity to address the crowd. Edward looks uncomfortable, keeping his distance and trying keep the subject on the “Best Male Video” award.
As predicted, the reunion was strictly temporary. A tense studio situation (with new producer Glen Ballard) produced two cuts. The first, “Can’t This Stuff No More”, was considerably darker than most of the Van Hagar tunes the band has been putting out. You can hear some quiet organ overdubs, but it is otherwise void of keyboards. Roth uses his lower voice, as he had on his previous solo album Your Filthy Little Mouth. Eddie’s guitar sounds a bit like his work on 1984, but with a much fatter tone. As a single, “Can’t Get This Stuff No More” is a bit of a disappointment. If it had accompanied a whole album of new material, it would have made an excellent album cut.
“Me Wise Magic” is the one with the catchy chorus. It too has a dark tone to it, perhaps reflective of the mood in the Van Halen camp. Roth again uses his low voice, until the chorus when he lets those patented Dave shrieks loose. They’re older, more ragged and tamed, but it’s that same Diamond Dave “charasma!” that we had missed for so long. The chorus isn’t bad, but the song doesn’t boast one of those classic guitar riffs that albums such as Women and Children First were loaded with. There’s no mistaking the player as Edward, especially come solo time, but it is undeniable that these two “new” songs lack a certain magical aura. Both would have made excellent album songs, surrounded by others of different tempos and types. As “new” compositions on a greatest hits collection of questionable intent…
Whether you are traveller or tourist, this is the end of the ride; the series stops here. We know what happened next: Van Halen 3, inactivity, followed by years of confounding turbulence. Finally, the album A Different Kind of Truth (2012), and redemption.